What a Guy

Sir Guy Carleton

First Baron of Dorchester

For a guy that had such an incredible impact of the history of Canada there is not a great deal of information about Sir Guy Carleton, the man. It is due in large part to Sir Guy that we are Canadians celebrating July 1st and not Americans celebrating July 4th.

Guy Carleton was born on Sept. 3, 1724, into a distinguished Irish family at Strabane in Tyrone County, Ireland. To all intents and purposes it would appear his upbringing was much like the average guy. Considering the extent of his knowledge and ability to strategize it is interesting to note that his exposure to formal education was fairly limited. Contine reading


Susana Moodie, a Canadian literature pioneer

Susana Moodie, a Canadian literature pioneer

We had the great pleasure of living in the little village of Durham Ontario for about six years, hence the name Lord Durham Rare Books and this blog The Lord Durham Report. Durham is wedged equidistance between Lake Huron, Owen Sound and Georgian Bay, which  would lead to very long and very snowy winters. It was not unusual to see kids on Halloween night having to try and pull their costumes over snowsuits and fleece wear in order to stay warm. Clever parents would just assume that boots and winter wear would be required and would wisely create a costume that would incorporate these garments hence there were a great deal of ghosts, Frankensteins, and monsters. Contine reading

Emma, Lady Hamilton by Johann Heinrich Schmidt, circa 1800

All is Fair in Love and War

All is Fair in Love and War

In keeping with the theme of love in this February issue of the Lord Durham Report I am reminded of many of the ‘great love stories’ in history. Probably one of the most endearing and enduring is that of Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton.

Nelson and War.
There can be little argument that Admiral Lord Nelson is one of, if not the finest leader in the history of Britain.

nelsonThe tales of Nelson, his bravery, his loyalty and his leadership are legendary. From the time Nelson assumed the command of the Agamemnon in service to Britain against the French in the Revolutionary wars, he became the darling of the seas and the conquering hero. Incredibly as the victim of chronic sea sickness the sea would always conquer Nelson.

Contine reading

Sully Sketch

Ahhhhhh, February. The month of love, hearts,…

Ahhhhhh, February. The month of romance, love, hearts, wine, chocolate and…poetry. Well there is also blizzards, cold, wet and rodents that think they can predict the future but we’ll just leave that alone.

It is only fitting that our profile this month should be  the French poet and essayist, René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme, .

René François Armand Sully-Prudhomme was born in Paris in 1839. On the heels of the miserable period depicted in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, life in Paris was a difficult at best. As the son of a shopkeeper who died when Sully was just two years old, life was a challenge.

As a child, Sully enjoyed classic literature and mathematics and at one point flirted with entering the Dominican Order. Upon graduating from Lycee Bonaparte, Sully-Prudomme studied the sciences in order to enter engineering, This plan was foiled due to a nasty, debilitating eye condition which made this career choice impossible. Following a stint as a factory correspondence, he then began the study of Law and worked in the office of a solicitor.

For one that wrote of feelings and emotions, Sully-Prudhomme was not to be so lucky in love, Having experienced one failed romance, he remained a bachelor for life.

Contine reading


A Careless Collection

A Careless Collection

When asked to write about my experience as a collector, I was immediately taken aback as I quite honestly had never considered myself to be a ‘collector’.

My sweaters are not argyle nor are my jackets tweedy and neither are adorned with leather patches at the elbow. I do not immerse myself in volumes of catalogues and on- line auctions. I cannot be a collector as you won’t find me hanging about fellow vendors’ booths as they unpack in an attempt to get the jump on the next guy for that illusive little goody for which negotiations for price ensue followed by the quiet and sneaky exchange, reminiscent of a back alley illicit ‘buy’ No, I am not a collector.

“So, asks the real collector in the family, what is that assemblage of literary works by one specific author on the shelf in the library?”

Oh good grief! I am a collector. Who knew?

My humble little collection of Daphne DuMaurier came about inadvertently as I would suspect as do a lot of collections.  I love the Cornish Coast. If I could I would spend the rest of my life there and die quite happily amongst the old fishing villages, the exquisite rock formations and pounding surf of this spectacular region in England. Contine reading


Collect “The Best You Can Afford” and one more thought…

Professional antiquarian dealers have advised probably forever to “collect the best you can afford” in your area of interest and focus. This is true for all collectors, Private, Libraries and Institutional however the B word (as in budget) always seems to curtail this wise advice. Another barrier is dependent on the stage the collector is at and how long they have been collecting. People newer to collecting often collect items they like without a focus of investment. So budget and experience are some common realities and barriers to this wise collect the best you can advice. Most do the best they can,  to improve  collections (condition, provenance, edition) and  upgrade to a much better item as budget and experience allows. Contine reading